Raider Nation, I hope you made it through Thanksgiving well, and enjoyed some quality time with your friends and family.
While you're likely posted up on the couch trying to motivate yourself to walk to the kitchen for another turkey sandwich – which sounds pretty amazing, to be honest – the Silver and Black are on their way to Kanas City for a Week 13 date against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
It's hard to overstate how important Sunday's matchup at Arrowhead Stadium is; let's take a look at six things that we'll be watching once the action gets underway.
1. How does the run game respond?
Through much of 2019, the run game has been the lifeblood of the Oakland Raiders' offense.
With an absolute behemoth of an offensive line, as well as Josh Jacobs and Co., in the backfield, the Silver and Black – when they're at their most dynamic offensively – have leaned heavily on the run game.
Well, as of late, the Raiders haven't been as effective as they'd like to be moving the ball on the ground, and last weekend at MetLife Stadium the group was held to just 68 rushing yards – their collective lowest output of 2019.
Yes, the New York Jets boast the toughest run defense in the NFL, but all the same, Jacobs and his pals, just couldn't find a way to garner any traction on the ground last week.
Luckily for them, the Chiefs rank 30th in stopping the run, so hopefully the Raiders can take advantage of that, and return to their typically dominant ways on the ground this weekend.
2. Stop the big plays
When you're talking about the Kansas City Chiefs, that conversation has to begin with Patrick Mahomes and the dynamic offense that he leads.
Let's not forget that when these two teams first met in Week 2, after the Silver and Black built a 10-point lead, Mahomes and Co., put up 28 unanswered points in the span of about 14 minutes.
Only three teams in the NFL have scored more points in 2019 than the Chiefs, and if the Silver and Black want to keep things close, they're going to have to find a way to limit what KC wants to do offensively AKA let Mahomes run wild, improvise, then heave a deep ball down the field to one of his targets.
Tyreek Hill has been absolutely unreal the past two weeks for the Chiefs, and the speedy wide receiver is averaging just under 19 yards per reception, so Trayvon Mullen, Daryl Worley and the rest of the Raiders' defensive backs are going to have their hands full Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Raiders know exactly what the Chiefs want to do for four quarters, let's see if they can stop them.
3. Limit the penalties
The self-inflicted wounds have been a thorn in the side of the Silver and Black all 2019, mainly getting penalties at inopportune times.
You can blame those flags on a relatively young team adjusting to life in the NFL, judgment calls that haven't gone the Raiders' way, or just bad luck, but the fact remains, Jon Gruden's team has been one of the most penalized in the league this year.
The group's 92 total penalties rank 29th in the NFL, and the Raiders' 814 total penalty yards are the most in the league save for one team. Now, sitting a game over .500, those penalties haven't necessarily derailed what the team wants to do, but with all due respect, there's a big difference between racking up penalties against the Cincinnati Bengals compared to the Chiefs.
Andy Reid's team – even though they're just 2-2 over their last four games – is still one of the best in the NFL, and the Raiders are going to have to play a clean game if they want to earn a very tough road win this weekend.
4. Will Daniel Carlson get back on track?
Let me start by saying this – Coach Gruden has already stated that he's not concerned about the second-year kicker, and if he's not worried, neither am I.
Last year, Carlson was an aberration for the Silver and Black, but over the past three games, No. 8 has missed three field goals and an extra point and hasn't been the lockdown placekicker he was just a year ago.
As I said, Gruden has publicly backed the former Auburn Tiger, and I don't think there's reason to be too concerned about Carlson just yet, but regardless, I'm sure the athletic kicker would like to get back to his typical ways, and doing that in Kansas City would be a welcome treat for the team as a whole.
The Silver and Black are going to need to take advantage of alltheir scoring chances Sunday afternoon, so keep an eye on Carlson to see if he can do his part.
5. Does Mad Maxx make it three in a row?
Serious question; is there a defensive end playing better football right now than Maxx Crosby?
After tallying four sacks two weeks ago against the Bengals, Crosby followed that performance up with another sack last week at MetLife Stadium, so for those of you keeping track at home, that's five sacks in the past eight quarters for the No. 106 pick in this year's NFL Draft.
Crosby is up 7.5 sacks on the year and has proven to be a dynamic weapon off the edge, but he's going to have his hands full against a Chiefs offensive line that has surrendered just 19 sacks all season.
Patrick Mahomes is a slippery character in the pocket, so combine that with the fact that Kansas City has a really good offensive line, and Crosby and the rest of the Silver and Black will have their collective hands full bringing down the reigning MVP behind the line of scrimmage.
Crosby has had a wildly productive two weeks, let's see if he tally a sack for the third consecutive game.
6. Mother Nature
You know we had to bring up the weather.
As of right now –and per usual, this is subject to change – the forecast for Sunday in Kansas City is a high of 37 degrees, with a low of 26.
Last weekend, the Silver and Black had their hands full with the rainy, windy conditions of East Rutherford, New Jersey, and while it doesn't look we'll get rain (for now) this weekend at Arrowhead, we'll have to see what Mother Nature has in store for Week 13.
In my humble opinion, much of the "weather" talk has been just a tad overblown this week, but if the Raiders can find a way to fly back to Northern California with a win in tow, I don't think we'll be hearing much about it going forward.
Bring on the Chiefs.
As the Raiders prepare for their Week 13 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, take a look back at their past matchups through the years.